as the most rule-defacing, genre-bending, music-revolutionizing, boundary-cracking, wave-monopolizing sound architect the world’s ear ever had the privilege to enjoy for over three decades would be correct.
Yet, it would still be quite the understatement.
Prince Rogers Nelson was the sublime musical phenomenon that the world itself never realized it was ready for. The ability to master over 20 instruments was one thing, but to create an individualized genre — exclusive only to himself — drenched in funk, R&B, disco, psychedelic groove, pop and soul, was profound otherworldliness. Greatness truly just wasn’t great enough for the Minnesotan tune genius, and “boundary” was a forbidden term that wouldn’t dare find its way within Prince’s vicinity. Selling over 100 million records globally, the Purple Rain marvel shapeshifted the entire human experience, sparking genius, vision, originality, inventiveness, audacity and transformation in every ear and heart that he touched.
Prince was never just a prince. Prince was never a king, a monarch, a mogul or any particular label of high society. Prince was someone that everyone could recapitulate, but no one could repay for what he made of music as we know it today. For that, BET.com bows not only to the life of Prince, but also to the remnants it left behind.
Without further ado, BET.com presents what has become of the Purple One’s legacy after A Year Without Prince.
Beyoncé’s purple-washed intermission during the first stop of The Formation World Tour was no mistake. Blasting Prince’s “Purple Rain” as she swapped ensembles backstage, Queen Bey’s gesture was just the beginning of a year abundant with onstage commemorations and honor for Prince. Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen and Elton John — all dominating and representative of the many genres that Prince mastered — followed up with their respects as well. Jimmy Fallon even took a moment to pack away all of his comical glory on Saturday Night Live for one evening, dedicating the nighttime show's massive audience to an even more massive tribute for Prince. And it was only fitting that Jennifer Hudson and The Color Purple cast paralleled their Broadway title to the honor of The Purple One as well.
Any award show that aired after Prince’s death just wasn’t complete without its own performance eulogies, each subsequent tribute attempting to outdo the ones done before it. Madonna and Stevie Wonder kicked theirs off at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards with his greatest hits, like “Nothing Compares 2 U” and a heartrending rendition of “Purple Rain.” Prince’s purple prominence even made its way to the White House Correspondents’ dinner with actress Helen Mirren, who donned a purple dress and faux Prince tattoo at the annual event. And if Prince’s exclusive clique of the sports world taking a knee for the late legend isn’t enough to prove his far-reaching impact, such as Dwyane Wade’s emotional reaction to finding out that he was Prince’s favorite basketball player, we’re not sure what is.
June was significant in itself for one obvious and sensible enough reason: it birthed the legendary music icon. And it rebirthed its icon again after the governor of Prince’s native Minnesota, Mark Dayton, pronounced the June 7 birthday of the "For You" artist as “Prince Day.” Spilling his influence into another pop culture field, Prince was also recognized with the print and digital Prince: Tribute comic book. This special collection, an abundant 24 pages long, recounts a biographic version of his rise to musical notoriety by way of illustrations.
Though the Purple One wasn’t always here for the relentless world of the internet, the collection of his most popular websites into one online museum still came to be only two months after his passing for the Prince Online Museum. The site’s director, Sam Jennings, recalled Prince’s digital connection to his global fan base and several modes of social media presence as something very important to him. “We launch with 12 of Prince's most popular sites, but over 20 years online, Prince launched nearly 20 different websites, maintained a dozen different social media presences, participated in countless online chats and directly connected with fans around the world,” Jennings told Billboard. In only a way that Prince’s heart for humanitarianism would, the site also backs the #YesWeCode organization, which connects underprivileged young adults to high-income tech careers. As legal decisions are still underway for Prince’s estate, the website is currently disabled.
In more birthplace love and sports world recognition, NHL’s Minnesota Wilds honored the many goals of Prince’s musical fruition with their puck, making his “Let’s Go Crazy” track the theme song to be played each time they score a goal. The decision came after season ticket holders were polled during the offseason about switching the song to further memorialize their legendary hometown hero. Despite Prince shying from rap in his genre transcendence, his impact nonetheless tread into hip-hop territory — namely in rap fashion. Take a glimpse of Young Thug’s JEFFERY album cover and Prince's unconventional gender-bending style is boldly written all over it in the form of a purple, ruffled, skirt-like dress. Not to mention, the 25-year-old’s ensemble imitation and full performance nod to him during a New York City performance.
Crossing over all sport fields (literally) just as seamlessly as he crossed over in style, taste and sound, Prince was honored yet again on the Minnesota Vikings’ home field during a halftime show in 2016. Showering the entire field in purple, the Minnesota Orchestra and popular gospel quartet The Steeles delivered the tribute paying homage to the great Purple One.
Chaka Khan, Tori Kelly and Jessie J became just a few of the singers to join a nearly five-hour tribute for Prince at the Xcel Energy Center. And who honestly could have asked for more? Organized by Prince’s family, the concert was saturated with enthusiastic, cosplaying fans in all things purple as they packed out the venue. Another treat for fans came when his Paisley Park estate officially opened as a museum and became available for the Purple Army to roam in the posthumous spirit of Prince. Hip-hop’s move-making mogul Jay Z, a longtime fan of Prince, also placed his $40 million bid for unreleased music from the industry icon.
Caught in a tough spot with those in control of Prince’s vast estate, representatives slammed Jay Z with a lawsuit to reportedly halt Roc Nation from exploiting intellectual property of the estate. It’s worth noting that Jay and Prince agreed on a rights deal prior to his passing, giving the New York rapper, mogul and business tycoon permissions for previously released music, however. Even though fans couldn’t get their hands on the Purple One’s unreleased tunes via TIDAL, there was hope that they’d experience it in a documentary that was promised to fans for a 2017 release.
‘Tis the season to be purple! Minnesota obviously coped well with their idol’s loss. A family from Prince’s home grounds demonstrated that by giving their Christmas holiday a full Prince makeover. Hanging 10,000 purple lights synchronized with his smash hit “Purple Rain,” the Staudt family included their Prince-festooned arrangement in an annual light show that began only three years earlier. "Prince’s passing meant so much to our community that we decided to do a short dedication during the intermission of our Christmas light show to honor him,” Mr. Staudt told the Star Tribune. “We’ve received compliments on this part of our show, and a few people have even mentioned it made them teary-eyed."
With a new year came new discoveries beneath Prince’s life and legacy, like the unearthing of 67 gold bars worth upward of $800,000. All 10 ounces in weight, the valuables come as just one installment of Prince’s estate's valued estimation of up to $300 million. To kick off a fresh start from 2016’s rocky road of a year, Prince’s music catalog also received the streaming treatment just days after he was named Forbes’ best-selling albums artist of the year.
Don’t feel alone if you were praying that organizers behind the 2017 59th Annual Grammy Awards didn’t screw up the prestigious music celebration’s tribute to Prince. But do feel relieved after God answered our prayers with Bruno Mars, who did it every bit of justice one could hope for. In a purple suit, sequined to the icon’s stature, and eyeliner, Mars combined his 24-karat magic with that of Prince’s spirit and legacy as he rocked the crowd to “Let’s Go Crazy.” Indeed we did, Bruno.
In another development to his estate-turned-museum, a ‘LoveSexy’ room was opened in recognition of his 10th Grammy-nominated studio album. A landmark year in music for many of Prince’s projects, his Sign O’ the Times undertaking also turned 30, with several publications and fans alike ranking and reviewing its 16 tracks.
If there was anyone who knew how much Prince’s fans meant to him, it had to have been whoever OK’d the decision to allow them to leave their personal Prince tributes at his Paisley Park estate fence. In addition to the normal balloons, cards, illustrations, poster boards and flowers, the “Prince4Ever Tribute Fence” is a beautiful reminder of the change and togetherness he brought to the industry, the people and the world. And on this day (April 21), which marks the one-year anniversary of Prince's passing, he's enriched the music world and his personal tune catalog yet again with the posthumous finale of his six-track Deliverance EP. Unfortunately, his estate has blocked its official release for now, but fans can still enjoy the title track, "Deliverance" in the meantime.
So, if there's nothing else we've learned from the legacy, life and afterlife of The Purple One, there's one avowal that we're certain of an entire year after he's left us: Long live the Prince.